Finding Patterns in the Blur

Jan 20, 2011 Comments Off by

The speed of change online creates a blur for many people, unless you move fast enough with the change or shift your focus to see the big picture and not the blur. Far better to do both – move fast AND see the big picture.

Major forces and trends are shaping the future of your business online. By understanding these trends, you can accelerate your business… without getting confused by the rapidly changing Internet technology.

How you work with the trends or try to ignore them is up to you, but cleverly catching and riding the trends that will change your industry can fast-track your business growth and success.

Whether you’re planning to expand your business or simply planning to stay alive in business, you need to find smarter, faster and lower cost ways to better service your customers.

Smarter use of online systems and the Internet can help you develop opportunities for tomorrow as well as solving problems of today, but doing business in the Digital Age requires continual fresh thinking, starting with the thinking of abundance.

Abundance, not scarcity

With the online world, there is no scarcity other than probably a scarcity of our own time. There is abundance of almost everything else.

In the old scarcity world, the more you use a resource, the less you have of it. The less a scarce resource is available, the more valuable it becomes.

In the abundant online world of today and tomorrow, resources do not diminish. The more a resource is used, the more valuable it becomes. Rather than getting lost in the abundance, a resource that is highly valuable and greatly used stands out in the crowd, not diminishing but growing, and often exponentially.

In the scarcity-based off-line business world, large individual firms can generate wealth from achieving economies of scale, but paradoxically, the same scale that helped them create their wealth often becomes an anchor, inflexibly weighing them down and preventing the changes needed to prosper in an agile future.

In the world of abundance online, small, highly networked businesses can generate wealth from achieving economies of structure that give them the necessary scale but also flexibility and agility to change rapidly for the future.

The online world has abundance, and those who can understand the structure and catch the trends can think ahead and get ahead.

You and Your Competitors

In the online world there is little to stop you using smart technology and systems to enhance your products and services, provide better service for your existing customers, and reach out to new customers in new markets.

There is also little to stop your competitors doing this either, and you may not even know if or when new competitors are threatening your business.

In the global marketplace, new competitors are emerging, cleverly hunting for new opportunities. Even for local businesses, your current customers are not sacred cash cows you can take for granted. Sooner or later, they are likely to be attractive and tempting targets for someone somewhere to attack.

How many of your customers would be tempted by better products and services providing substantially more benefits and value, and delivered in smarter faster ways at lower cost?

Improved online systems can help you create small enhancements that make a big difference to your customers or to your own business operations, or can create revolutionary new products, services and processes that become game-changers for your whole industry.

New Technology: New Problems or New Opportunities?

There is an amazing array of available technology choices and possible online business solutions, and every day seems to bring more options to help you meet your business opportunities and challenges. Finding a clear pathway is not just difficult, but continually and increasingly problematic.

Many people dabble with new techno-tools and play with fads that catch their attention, often introducing different systems and adding to the fragmentation of processes and technology within their organizations.

The price you pay for technology systems is not just measured in the ‘dollars’ you pay up front, especially when they don’t appear to be expensive, and may be cheap or even free. Significant costs come from the implementation, use and ultimately migration away from different systems.

Integration of different systems is increasingly important, but often overlooked.  Fragmented systems invariably cause fragmented business processes, and there are real, but often hidden costs from the confusion, constraints and missed opportunities in the fragmented chaos of multiple systems within an organization.

At a business level, you want systems that can be introduced quickly; can be learnt easily; will work effectively, securely and reliably; will be cost-effective and preferably with an easily demonstrated return on investment; bring no or low risks to your business; and give good options for the future.

Many businesses get their new technology choices wrong – or at least, they don’t get these choices right enough. They make short-term, ad-hoc reactionary decisions, or they find themselves playing expensive trial and error games trying to pick the winners amongst the range of possible new applications, tools and systems.

Choosing the right mix of Internet and web applications, systems, databases, tools, marketing processes, products, payment systems and other technologies for your business is a puzzle. And the more it grows, the more it becomes an increasingly complex puzzle.

The Continually Morphing Picture Puzzle

How hard is it to complete a jig-saw picture puzzle when you’ve never seen the picture you are trying to create with all the puzzle pieces?

To make it worse, even the edges of the picture puzzle are unclear as there are no obvious corner pieces or puzzle pieces with straight sides to help you define the boundaries of the picture. The puzzle can be a confusing blur…

Your blurry puzzle challenge is made even harder when you realize these puzzle pieces are continually morphing, changing their shapes, colors and points of interaction and integration. How are you ever going to complete the puzzle?

Learn to focus on the Big Picture

The key is to draw back from just focusing on the puzzle pieces and expand your vision and your view. Rise above the short-term confusion of today’s technology puzzle and look over the horizon. Allow yourself the time and space to expand your vision to see the big picture for your business.

Think about the real needs and wants of your customers, and think about the benefits and value you offer. Look back and look forward and see the patterns emerge for your customers, your business and your industry. Your big picture focus must at least be wide enough to include your business, your products, your industry, your customers, your future customers, your competitors, and your community.

As you expand your focus and your horizons, your view of doing business yesterday, today and more importantly, tomorrow will start to change from a blur to a clearer vision. Look for the patterns, and you will start to see long-term change for what it is, generally neither random, ad-hoc, accidental nor faddish.

These long-term changes in the Digital Age have been happening over past 15 to 20 years. Once you recognize the principles, patterns and trends, you will better understand why there is every likelihood these will continue into the future for another 15 to 20 years and beyond.

Strategies & Roadmap, The Big Picture
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